Meet my friend Emily! Emily lives in Landisville, Pennsylvania with her husband, Travis and their four children: Hollyn (14), Iyrie (12), Liam (10), and Selah (8). They have been homeschooling for 10 ten years and are actively involved with the leadership team at the In the Light Ministries in Lancaster City. When they aren’t busy renovating their 200 ear old house, they enjoy kayaking, hiking, and working on their “homestead”.
Emily views homeschooling as an opportunity to inspire kids to a love of learning that follows them through life. She sees herself as more of a consultant in their learning process rather than a teacher. She shares how homeschooling has changed for them from the elementary years to high school years.
Hi! My name is Emily. Enjoy a little sneak peak into our family!
What attracted you to homeschooling?
A few things-
1. I have a degree in Elem Ed and taught second grade, so having someone else teaching my children to read felt weird…
2. I taught in the public school system so I had first hand knowledge of what the environment was like- I wasn’t quite ready to “throw my babies to the wolves” so to speak… We felt it was very important to help them develop a solid Biblical Worldview first.
3. I wanted the freedom and flexibility not to be tied down to anyone else’s schedule or demands.
Having said all that- I STAY homeschooling because I’ve seen the benefits to my children- emotionally, spiritually, socially, and educationally. What started as maybe a bit of a “control issue” on my part has really developed into a way of life for us.
–What does homeschooling look like in your home?
We typically set up at the dining room table, but “school” happens all over our house and property… My kids work independently on math, writing, language arts, and Latin/ Spanish, but we have always done history and science together…
–How has it changed from the younger years to high school?
Definitely a greater shift toward independence. My middle school and high school kids fill out their own weekly planners and now take most of their classes at a co-op 1-2 days a week. I view myself more as a consultant or coach and less of a teacher for them.
–What kinds of “school” happens outside your home and what does that look like?
Aside from co-op, we spend a lot of time working on our house and in our yard (we are renovating and have a garden and animals etc). When we have free time, we enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, skiing etc. The kids have played some sports and take music lessons. They also spend a lot of time with their grandparents and other family members. The older kids are involved in our youth group and we are active in our church community.
With all that is happening in our country with COVID, do you have any advice for people who are pulling kids out for the year?
Just do what you can. Don’t compare yourself to those of us who have been homeschooling forever and are passionate about it. (We constantly need to remind ourselves not to compare ourselves to each other). Take it one day at a time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Above all, try to have fun and enjoy this time with your kids. Think of things you can teach them like cooking, or woodworking or some other skill you have that they may not have had the time to learn otherwise… Kids are resilient- it’s not the end of the world if you struggle in one or two areas- if you walk through it gracefully together, they will remember your love and willingness to try. The biggest thing you can teach your kids is HOW to learn- you can never possibly teach them all there is to know about anything, but if they know how to find it when they need it, they will be set for life.
–What’s your favorite thing that you do?
Reading science and history together. I love learning with my kids and I greatly value the dinner table discussions we can have since we are all studying the same thing.
–What’s your biggest challenge?
Keeping all the wheels turning- keeping everyone on task and working diligently… it seems like no one needs me one minute, and everyone needs me the next… Closely related to that is helping my kids to stay focused and not get distracted… I have one child in particular that needs a quiet environment, and our house is not usually very quiet!!
–Is there anything unique to your family that you’d like to talk about?
We tend to be late night folks- so my kids sleep in and our day is shifted a bit compared to many others… our homeschool day is usually 9-2 or 10- 3ish (with lots of breaks in between) sometimes we don’t even eat lunch until 2pm… but that’s okay! I love the flexibility to do school on a schedule that works for us…Also, we’ve moved 3 times and renovated 3 houses in 4 years… I have no idea how we would have done that if we didn’t homeschool- I don’t think we would have… I’m glad that my kids have had those experiences. We were able to count a lot of it as “school”.